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The beauty of plans and elevations

In another thread, Dr. Tufte mentioned that everybody should know how to read plan and elevation views. If one is unfortunate enough not to be taught this in school, Anchor building stones provides a very elegant self-study course (albeit a bit expensive)

Go here, and after selecting your preferred language, select Downloads, then Designs, and select a design to open - Pyramidenmonument is fun.

Each design provides perspective views from different angles, then an elevation which assigns a letter to each building course (plan), which is then presented.

What I particularly like about these design booklets is that the builder (me) is assumed to be intelligent. I am expected to be familiar enough with my materials so that labeling each stone used is not necessary. The designs aren't cluttered up with text hints or exhortations.

-- Andrea (email)

I've been writing recently about Otto Lilienthal, the creator of Ankersteinbaukasten. He founded the field of aeronautical engineering, piloted 2000 glider flights, ran his own factory, and was preoccupied with the care of his factory employees. Here is one of Lilienthal's illustrations, with some excellent contextualized cross-sections of bird wings—along with my discussion from Beautiful Evidence in a chapter on mapped pictures.

-- Edward Tufte

Not picky, good point.

-- Edward Tufte

Back to Strouhal Number

Perhaps a link the thread linking to "The Strouhal Number in Cruising Flight" is appropriate here:

A related link to more of Jonathan Corum's work is:

And finally a Dr. Graham Taylor press release:

While these articles focus primarily on winged flight, they also address swimming. Seemingly the Strouhal Number concept could be applied to humans swimming as it relates to length of arms, legs, torso, weight, etc. That is, are some shapes of persons better equipped for efficient swimming (cruising) than others? And, if so, could this be effectively shown visually?

-- Gene Prescott (email)

ET-- The Otto Lilienthal Museum has a useful web page, major portions of which, are in English. Numerous photographs of his flight experiments and a few of his drawings (sketches) are posted here.

Daniel Meatte

-- Daniel Meatte (email)

Dear ET,

Here is a beautiful elevation of the Cathedral of Pavia drawn in the early 1300's by Opicinus. It is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art 2009 exhibition - Pen & Parchment: Drawing in the Middle Ages (

The write up;

"The now-destroyed double cathedral of Pavia, Opicinus's hometown, is the subject of this drawing. The two churches and the campanile are all sketched in three-quarter view, allowing the maximum representation of the facades, naves, transepts and towers. Though he was not trained as an architect, his experiences as a manuscript illuminator and cartographer would have taught him many of many of the geometric strategies necessary to create such a view of the buildings. The only work in his portfolio that does not contain a diagram, this drawing attests to his skills as draftsman and his interest in local landmarks and sites."

Opicinus de Canistris (1296-ca. 1354) Cathedral of Pavia Avignon, France; 1335-50 Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vatican City, Pal. Lat. 1993

-- Matt R (email)

Threads relevant to design case studies:

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